These days seem increasingly dark and foreboding. Many of us have railed against the oncoming train even as it has plowed this country over and I will continue to do so, even if it grinds the fabric of our collective being into powder.
In the midst of that, the faint light of hope has continued to glimmer in the voices of those whose knuckles turn white, prying open the rapidly narrowing doorway back to the comfort of American safety.
It’s been my desire and compulsion, as a physician, to contribute to that hope even as my own fingers begin to bleed on the cruel, jagged edges of hate and bigotry. That desire is being overridden by an approaching specter of hopelessness. The doorway continues to narrow and the banshees howl in the encroaching darkness. I have, at times, observed my various ideas about how to bring more hope to others with a deriding cynicism. How could I be so PollyAnna? Who am I to begin to think that my thoughts; hopes; voice or action could make one iota of difference?
A particularly spiritually-minded friend of mine recently told me that “this has to happen”.
This travesty; this devastation of human decency; this rise of power on the back of a monster named greed, oppression and the exaltation of violence has to happen in order for the next phase of human existence to be ushered in. He assured me that the greater good will, indeed win out. The scientist of me heard those words with extreme skepticism of “How do you know that?”. The mother of me heard those words with a silent response of “Fuck the Cosmos and it’s grand plan! I have a son to protect!” The psychiatrist of me heard those words and thought of the many books written on Psychopathy and knew that it is a sorrowful inevitability that humans will follow the person who spouts their beliefs back to them, offering promises to assuage their concerns with actual substance, all the while smiling deceitfully in the knowledge that the promises are as empty as a dry well.
We are about to usher into the White House, a Psychopath.
All of the indications are there, starkly visible for everyone to see.
The words said during his campaign that lured in the working poor and the downtrodden who feel forgotten by the status-quo, are evaporating into thin air like the putrid smoke from a funeral pyre.
And whose body is burning on the pyre? The one that housed the Soul of Democracy. It housed the hopes and dreams of millions who endured unspeakable terror to escape torture and fascism and to live, finally, in peace, in the great Democracy of the United States. The ideas of wealth; power; world dominance; hatred; bigotry, dance around the pyre with distorted faces alight with glee while the ideas of equality; inclusivity; peace; love and hope are left to watch in horror and fight amongst themselves about who suffered the most through it all.
What can be done? Is this, indeed, a question best considered through the lens of Eschatology? Is this as some would suggest, the end of times? Perhaps the answer is found among the more realistic interpretations of that mode of thinking. Perhaps this is the end of an era. Perhaps the events that are yet to unfold will open an opportunity to truly “drain the swamp” and find the gold that lies in the mud beneath. Is that where the hope lies, buried in the mud under the swamp?
I am reminded of a poem by David Whyte, The Well of Grief.
The Well of Grief
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.